Artist, Benicia Middle School teacher conveys her passion to youth
By Bethany A. Monk
When she’s not busy teaching five periods of art at Benicia Middle School and entering her students’ work in local galleries and events, Pat Hall manages to take pencil to paper and draw to her heart’s content.
In class, her students are always a bit shocked when they first learn that she can draw, she said. “They’re surprised that I’m an artist,” she said with a chuckle.
And Hall draws a lot in class. “I want them to see me drawing,” she said, mentioning the importance of observation in the learning process.
Though she has only been teaching at the middle school for three years, Hall is no stranger to the Benicia Unified School District. The Southern California native moved to Benicia 19 years ago, and until her move to BMS, she taught fourth- and fifth-grade at Matthew Turner Elementary School.
Art has always been a passion of Hall’s, even though it wasn’t her first choice of study in college. Her first bachelor’s degree, from California State University-Fullerton, is in communications with an emphasis in graphic design — but it wasn’t her thing.
“I was trying to combine my love of art with something practical,” she said. So she moved to Long Island, N.Y., where she worked as a waitress before deciding it was time to pursue her passion. Moving back to the Golden State, Hall enrolled at CSU-Long Beach, where she earned a degree in art. After that, she earned her teaching credentials.
Hall said it’s taken her a long time to consider herself an artist because “I thought I’d have to be saying something new” in each work. Before returning to the classroom as an art teacher, she continually dabbled in diverse projects. “I’ve been a creative person all these years. Teaching (art) got me realizing (again) how much I love art.” And she came to the conclusion that one can be an artist without constantly “saying something new.”
An artist can be someone who is “constantly evolving,”
Now, one of Hall’s true joys is watching her students evolve as artists. Some begin the school year nervous or scared about their artistic abilities. “They think they can’t do anything,” she said, but by the end of the semester “they walk out proud. They do better than they thought they could.”
In her spare time, Hall has taken to drawing portraits of people and animals. She’s working on commissioned projects and she also does art on her own. An Arts Benicia board member, one of her pieces is currently on display in the “Art of a Community” exhibition running through Feb. 28 at the gallery, 991 Tyler St., Suite 114.
Find Out More
For more information about Arts Benicia exhibits and artists, visit www.artsbenicia.org. For more about Pat Hall and her work, e-mail her at email@example.com.